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100 County Services Park
Sylva, NC 28779
Helen Bryson, Executive Director
JACKSON COUNTY SENIOR SERVICES COMPLEX
For over thirty years Jackson County residents have supported developing a variety of services for the county's older population.
Jackson County has a long tradition of strong family values, neighbors helping neighbors, a strong spiritual ethic, and going the extra mile for each other.
In the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s in response to this tradition, various county residents identified areas of need for some of the older population in Jackson County that were not adequately met by their family or friends.
In September 1980, the first Jackson County Council On Aging members were appointed by the County Commissioners. The Council was registered as a North Carolina non-profit corporation in March 1981.
The Council On Aging was designated as the Focal Point On Aging for Jackson County. An office was set up under the Department of Social Services at the Community Service Center for the Focal Point On Aging.
The Council started and operated the beginning of the current Jackson County Transit with three vans in 1983.
Under the leadership of the Jackson County Recreation and Parks Department and with the support of the Council On Aging, the Golden Age Club was established in a building donated for $ 1/yr by the Sylva City Council. It was later renamed the Golden Age Senior Center, and is now known as the Jackson County Senior Center.
The Council On Aging enlisted the aid of the Cullowhee Methodist Church to secure funding to build and operate Jackson Village Apartments. Council on Aging members still serve on the Jackson Village board.
The Council organized volunteers to cut, split, and deliver wood to seniors whose only heating and cooking fuel source was wood. This was the beginning of Project F.I.R.E.
A Nursing Home-Rest Home Advisory Committee was formed to visit all the Nursing Homes in the county to be sure they were complying with all building and safety regulations and treating the patients well.
The Jackson County Council On Aging collected information about services important to the older population, gave referrals to appropriate agencies for service, and provided advocacy for those in need with limited resources.
The County Commissioners created the Jackson County Department On Aging at the end of the 1980s to administer the programs started by the Council On Aging and other services for the aging population. The Council On Aging continues as an advisory board to the County Commissioners and assists the Department On Aging with its programming and fund raising.
Alzheimer's disease information, resources, and support services was provided to the Council On Aging starting in 1989 by the Alzheimer's Association, Western Chapter based in Asheville.
Funding became available in 1991 through the U. S. Administration on Aging as part of the Older Americans Act for areas of need for the older population. Minor emergency home repairs and safety modifications in homes for low income elderly was identified as a priority. Project C.A.R.E. (Community Action to Reach the Elderly) was initiated with these funds. Vista Volunteers provided the leadership in the early 1990 years using donated building materials, SABA (Southern Appalachian Building Aid) teams, and community volunteers to augment these funds. Later, Home and Community Care Block Grant funds and Department On Aging employees continue the Project C.A.R.E. tradition.
The Seniors' Health Insurance Program (S.H.I.I.P.) of North Carolina started training volunteers through the Jackson County Department On Aging in 1995. S.H.I.I.P. volunteers provide information to seniors about long term care insurance, Medicare Part A and Part B coverage, Supplemental Insurance policies, and billing problems. The Department On Aging continues to make available S.H.I.I.P. volunteer training and counseling for seniors in Jackson County.
1995 was also the year that the monthly Senior Newsletter JACKSONIAN was first published and a Senior Resource Directory of services available to seniors in Jackson County was compiled. The Senior Resource Directory is updated periodically.
The Council On Aging, Department On Aging, and Harris Hospital Home Health service (now WestCare Home Health service) cooperated in acquiring Christmas boxes to deliver to low income seniors in Jackson County. In 1995, 50 boxes were prepared and delivered. Each year thereafter, Christmas boxes have been donated by caring residents of Jackson County. In 2010, there were 381 boxes donated and delivered to seniors throughout the county.
Mountain Projects, based in Waynesville and serving the southwestern counties, started the senior congregate and home delivered meals program in 1977 through the Department of Social Services and later the Council On Aging. The Jackson County Department On Aging assumed the administrative responsibilities in 1996 for the congregate and home delivered meals at the Sylva Nutrition Site and the Cashiers Nutrition Site. These sites are now named Sylva Senior CAFÉ and Cashiers Senior CAFÉ.
In 1996, there were seven home delivered meal routes which has expanded to eleven home delivered meal routes in Jackson County. Home Delivered meals are transported primarily by volunteers. The Nutrition program expanded in 1998 to include liquid supplementation for seniors with malnutrition, poor diets, increased caloric need, or inability to chew or swallow solid foods. A monthly vegetable distribution program through Manna Food Bank for low income families in Jackson County was added in 2006. Project Animeals, supplemental pet food for home delivered meal clients, was also started in 2006.
The Jackson County Transit was administered by the Council On Aging and the Department On Aging until 1996 when a separate Transit Board and county department were created.
The Council On Aging acquired funding in 1997 to purchase two computers for the Golden Age Senior Center, one computer for the Sylva Nutrition Site and one computer for the Cashiers Nutrition Site. These were public access computers and training is regularly provided for any senior in the use of the computers and using the internet. The Senior Center continues to offer upgraded public access computers and training for seniors.
In 1998, the Jackson County Department On Aging continued the tradition started in 1982 by the Home Health Service of Harris Hospital of having a birthday party each year honoring people in Jackson County who were 90 years old or older.
The Council On Aging, Department On Aging and WestCare Home Health Services collaborated in 1999 to plan and acquire funding for the CARING HANDS Group Respite program for clients with low to moderate Alzheimer's disease or other dementias. Mountain Trace Nursing Center provided the first space for this program administered by WestCare Home Health Services. The CARING HANDS Group Respite program transferred to the East Sylva Shopping Center in 2003 and was administered by the Department On Aging. The group respite program was terminated in 2006 and became the CARING HANDS In-Home Respite Care program. This program provides primary caregivers with much needed relief and respite in the home setting of persons with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias. The Department On Aging also sponsors the Alzheimer's Support Group.
Adult Day Care services started on the Western Carolina University campus in 1985. This program was later moved in 2003 to the lower level of the Lovedale United Methodist Church and operated by the church. The Department On Aging took over the administration of the Adult Day Care services in 2007 providing new staff and expanding the program activities.
No narrative about senior services in Jackson County would be complete without a special note of appreciation for the many volunteers over the years that have made and continue to make these programs and services possible. The Aging Services employees and the county government extend their profound gratitude to all the volunteers who have donated their time, expertise, transportation, tools and good will to brighten the lives of the seniors they serve.The Jackson County Council On Aging has secured grant funding for:
- NC DOT funds for transit vans
- HUD funds to build Jackson Village
- HCCBG funds for Nutrition programs, Project CARE, Transportation, Home Health Services and Adult Day Care
- Computers for Senior Center and Nutrition Sites
- Tools for Project CARE SABA teams
- Pick-up truck for Project CARE
- Van for Cashiers Senior CAFÉ
- 2 years of lumber for wheelchair ramps and supplies for home safety repairs for Project CARE
- Start up funding for CARING HANDS Group Respite Center
- Aluminum ramps for Project CARE
- Jeep to establish new route for Home Delivered Meals
- SHIIP funds for Medicare Part D counselor
- Funding for a bus driver for the Cashiers Senior CAFÉ
- Funding for a van driver for the Cashiers Meal programs
- Department On Aging administrative offices
- Assistant to Director
- Nutrition Program Director
- Assistant to Nutrition Program Director
- Project CARE Coordinator
- In-Home Respite Coordinator
- Medicare Part D/SHIIP Counselor & Jacksonian Editor
The Jackson County Senior Services administered by the Department On Aging includes the Cashiers Sylva CAFÉ located in the Cashiers and Glenville area. Congregate and Home Delivered meals are available at this site along with socializing and variety of programs.
In June 2008, the North Carolina Division On Aging certified the Jackson County Senior Center as a 'Center of Excellence', the highest rank that a Senior Center can be awarded through the Division On Aging.